Last Friday I had the opportunity to check out the Landmark Forum seminar. Many of you have probably heard about their work, and if you haven’t they are a personal development company that puts on seminars around the world. This was a three day seminar which was held between the hours of 9am and 10pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You are given two half hour breaks every 2.5 hours and then a 1.5 dinner break over the course of the 13 hour day.
My course leader was a fine gentlemen named Barry Terry from Virginia. He had supposedly been a senior trainer for a couple decades and was self-proclaimed as “excellent” and “one of the best” in his field. I was excited to take part in the event and sat down in a large hall filled with a 100 other strangers. We all sat in positive anticipating for the intellectual insight that was supposedly coming our way. And boy, were we left disappointed!
We sat in very uncomfortable chairs that were spaced very closely together. The chairs were positioned six aside in each row with a path separating the two sides where Barry Terry would attempt to mesmerize the crowd over the next couple of days. Now take in mind that this was a large hall that could have easily fit double the crowd, so there was plenty of space in this room to move the chairs around to allow for more comfort, but for some reason they thought placing us shoulder to shoulder was more appropriate. It made economy seating on an airplane seem spacious. For a weekend long seminar that costs $650 for the three days you think they would provide you at least a little bit of physical comfort to help the information sink in. Their common solution to this nagging discomfort was to stand in the back corner of the room from time to time stretching out your muscle pain from their agonizing chair layout.
Top 5 Fails of Landmark Forum
1# – For Fuck’s Sake, save your $650 and read The Power of Now and The Biology of Belief, and mix that new knowledge with taking responsibility for the wrongs you have made in the past by saying sorry and moving forward in life. This will run you for a grand total of $25 on amazon.com ($625 worth of savings, not to mention saving you from high levels of frustration). For you brave souls out there who are now wondering about amends, well, that doesn’t costs you anything but effort. Yes, I know this complex approach of reparation that is so unfamiliar to the masses, but trust me when I say IT WORKS (and often cost you nothing). Taking responsibility for the things you have done wrong in life and now apologizing for your part is an invaluable experience.
2# – Instead of answering direct questions from the crowd, the fast talking forum leader consistently chose to speak around any question he was unsure of and provide a completely unhelpful answer to the crowd instead. Heaven forbid he broke his own racket of inferiority and simply stated, “I’m not sure, but I could find out for you” when he was asked a question he couldn’t earnestly answer. Now Barry Terry, I guess they don’t teach about ego not being your amigo in leader training.
3# – Making people speak in front of a crowd they weren’t comfortable with, coercing them to disclose person information to get down to the hard truths of their problematic lives, because this would solve their problems. Keep in mind we are talking about people who had been raped, recently gone bankrupt, and others who were physically/emotionally abused, life shattering trauma. Barry convinced the crowd that they were safe and the people in the course wouldn’t take any of their deeply personal stories out of the room with them (no, that would never happen now, would it?). Non-dislosure agreements of course were nowhere to be seen, but a simple bold statement of trust would be all these innocent people would need to be secure (you can trust me guys, just take the blue pill, lol).
#4 – This one still might be my favourite, even though know how much you guys love to save a dollar or two from point #1! Now, after these paying customers divulged very scarring personal information about themselves to the crowd, Barry Terry in all his mighty arrogance would label these people as crazy and laugh at them. Claiming it was their bad or mistake for these choices they had made in front of 100 strangers. Keep in mind, some of these things could happened at a very young age with an undeveloped mind/brain, at a complete innocent state. I may not know very much in life, but one thing I do know is that forcing someone to instantly get over fears of public speaking by exposing life traumas to a crowd, while being told their crazy from a self-proclaimed mindset leader isn’t a winner formula. Fortunately for Barry Terry I wasn’t one of those lucky few who got publicly lambasted or else he might have left Canada with a few missing teeth. I will admit it has been a couple years since I have taken a psychology course at the University level, but I don’t ever recall reading about the benefits of public humiliation as a useful tool in behaviour change.
#5 – Course leaders dominated their co-workers with what seemed to be a subservient regime. Remember that we are supposedly at a seminar where they are guiding you to a higher, better level of life, and in order to “complete your pasts” you need to enrol others in your bright future. It really is an incredible business model of free marketing and labor. Yet, when it came to these second-class “worker-bees” who did most of the work to begin with, they seemed to walk around the room with little to no self-confidence of their own. Every few minutes looking back to the higher-ups to seek validation and direction as if they were a pack of defeated dogs looking back to their Alpha leader. It was really sad. I felt like they had drank the kool-aid and didn’t even know it.
BONUS FAIL: After communicating to the course leader that I was receiving little to no value with the course on multiple occasions she finally agreed to connect with me the following Monday. I would be “taken care of” as she described it in her own words. This course leader preached the importance of integrity and willingness in our own lives, and somehow Monday turned into Thursday and I still haven’t heard one word from her. This was a solidifying moment for my sad experience at the Landmark Forum!
I can only hope that you trust that there are several other ways to obtain the knowledge that is so highly “sought after” in Landmark. Their work is hardly original and anyone who makes such a claim is participating a racket of their own!